The arrival of a baby is a time filled with excitement, but also uncertainty for any pregnant woman. Although the precise date of a typical delivery is difficult to predict, we know that it is supposed to occur between the 37th and 42nd week of amenorrhea. A range that is still a little too vague for those for whom the last few weeks have been torture!
But advice to future mothers: if at 9 months pregnant, you are thinking of throwing yourself on spicy dishes supposed to trigger childbirth, we advise you first to take into account some grandmothers' tips to check if the future baby is not already on its way. Without forgetting some scientific indications which will allow you to more seriously detect whether your childbirth is imminent.
Childbirth: some signs that can reveal its arrival according to our grandmothers
You manage to pass your hand between your breasts and your stomach
According to our grandmothers, if you are able to pass your hand between your breasts and your stomach, this may be a sign of impending labor. This is due to the baby's descent into the pelvis, which frees up space between the breasts and the stomach. Well, this remains to be proven, each human body is different and we strongly doubt that this advice is valid for twin pregnancies!
You have a sudden desire to transform your home into a cozy nest
Another grandmother's secret for predicting that D-Day is approaching is called "nesting." Some pregnant women feel a sudden and intense need to prepare their home environment to welcome their baby. This can manifest itself as a boost of energy, a frenzy of cleaning the bathroom, a furious need to decorate the baby's room or an irrepressible desire to tidy up your house from top to bottom. This impulse to prepare the nest is considered by some to be a sign that childbirth is near.
It is common to hear that we would be more fertile or that childbirths would be more numerous during full moons. Myth or reality ? According to this popular belief, the fact that the lunar cycle lasts 28 days like the menstrual cycle cannot be due to chance, so one would be more likely to get pregnant on a full moon night. The moon also having an influence on the tides, it would act on our internal liquids, in particular the amniotic fluid and would promote the rupture of the water bag. We would like to believe it, but to date no scientific study has established that there is a correlation between the moon and pregnancy.
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The real signs of imminent labor
While grandma's tips can be fun to consider, it's essential to know the more concrete signs of impending labor. Here are some of the signs commonly observed by healthcare professionals:
Loss of the mucus plug
The mucus plug is a thick, gelatinous substance that blocks the entrance to the cervix during pregnancy, acting as a protective barrier against infection. As delivery approaches, some pregnant women suddenly notice heavier discharge, which cannot be confused with vaginal discharge. They can be pink, brownish or even slightly tinged with blood. According to a study carried out in France and published in the journal "Journal de Gynecology Obstetrics and Biology of Reproduction" in 2020, the loss of the mucus plug is one of the first signs of approaching childbirth, although its precision as a predictor may vary.
Breaking of water
Rupture of membranes, commonly called water breaking, occurs when the amniotic sac surrounding the baby ruptures, releasing amniotic fluid. This rupture of the water bag leads to a leak or flow of liquid, which should be for you a reliable sign of imminent delivery and therefore the time to go quickly to the maternity ward.
Intense contractions lasting more than 40 seconds
Uterine contractions are also a key sign of impending labor. While false contractions, often called Braxton Hicks contractions, may be felt throughout pregnancy, real contractions become regular, intense, and usually last longer than 40 seconds. You should quickly see the difference, and even if in doubt, do not hesitate to contact your maternity hospital who will be able to tell you whether or not these are false alerts.
I have passed my due date: what should I do?
It is common for a pregnant woman to miss her due date. In fact, only about 5% of women actually give birth on their due date. However, if you're past your due date and wondering what to do, here are some tips:
- Stay calm: Stress and anxiety can delay labor and therefore lead to a longer pregnancy. Try to relax and rest as much as possible.
- Maintain light physical activities: Light walks or relaxation exercises can help stimulate labor. According to a study conducted in France and published in the “Journal of Gynecology Obstetrics and Biology of Reproduction” in 2017, moderate physical activity during pregnancy can reduce the duration of labor.
- Having sex: Having sex releases hormones called prostaglandins, which can trigger uterine contractions. Rest assured, sexual intercourse during pregnancy does not pose any health risks to the future mother and baby and can be considered as an option to stimulate labor.
- Watch for signs of labor: Continue to watch for signs of impending labor, such as regular contractions, loss of the mucus plug, and breaking of your water. If you notice these signs or have any concerns, contact your midwife or healthcare professional immediately for advice.
In conclusion, if the last days before giving birth seem endless to you, there are some tips to help you monitor your baby's arrival. The important thing is to listen to your body, trust yourself and enjoy these last moments with your baby warm.
Are you dreading the post-partum phase? We tell you everything about the baby blues in our dedicated article.